ST. GENEVIEVE, MO - Lucent Window and Door, LLC has acquired the former BiltBest Windows plant near St. Louis, with plans for producing all-wood and metal-clad wood windows aimed at the high end residential remodeling market.
Tom Bruggeman, one of the principals of the investment group reopening the plant, says the operation will begin shipping windows in December.
The former BiltBest Windows & Doors operation, founded in 1955, ceased operations in April 2011. While touring the shuttered plant in April 2012, Bruggemen found a turn-key production operation, with equipment lines intact.
"All they needed was a little oil and they were ready to roll," he said. The 221,000 square feet of production space is situated on 14.6 acres of land in St. Genevieve, MO, about 46 miles outside St. Louis.
Bruggeman says the business plan calls for window shipments to commence on December 2, 2013. In five years, he envisions the plant employing 205 workers. During the re-start phase, former employees still in the area provide a ready workforce.
"Our product - wood and aluminum-clad wood windows - is aimed at the what it will be a considerable market for replacement windows," says Bruggeman. "The replacement market is 3 to 4 times as large as new homes. We have spent a good 12 months in market research and we feel very confident in our plan, and it is conservative."
Bruggeman, a former manufacturing executive with Universal Forest products and Champion Industries, retired to the area to operate a hobby business, Bruggeman Legacy Brick & Stone, LLC.
The investors behind re-opening the plant convinced him to look at the potential for restarting the factory, and he was strongly persuaded by the quality of the former plant workers still in the area, and the support from the community. The City Council of St. Genevieve, for example, met last week to address water drainage issues around the Lucent Windows & Doors plant.
"There is a ready workforce here of folks that have been unemployed since the closure, and we have the luxury of selecting the best," he says. Around the area the Lucent Window Plant has provided hope and inspiration for the local community.